Knights bounce back without pair of regulars
The Rutgers wrestling team finished off the dual match portion of its schedule on Sunday, when the team traveled to Philadelphia for a tussle with Drexel.
The seventh-ranked Scarlet Knights won, 39-6, to get back on the winning track after last week's roadblock against No. 10 Lehigh.
"That's the great thing about wrestling — it can change the very next day," said head coach Scott Goodale. "Now they feel good about a win and they are ready to go. These guys didn't get down [after the loss]. After 24 hours, it was about moving onto the next match."
Sophomores Mario Mason and Scott Winston — mainstays in the starting lineup — did not appear in the match three days after both dropped their individual matchups against the Mountain Hawks.
But Goodale stated that keeping their names exempt from the lineup was not a response to their uncharacteristic losses.
"We didn't need them for the dual meet and we knew that going in," he said. "No sense wrestling them at that spot."
Senior David Greenwald and freshman Nick Visicaro stepped in admirably in their stead at 149 and 165 pounds, and both secured bonus points.
Greenwald pinned Garth Mahosky in 5:23 and Visicaro recorded a 21-5 technical fall over T.J. Laky at the 5:56 mark.
"It was a great way for [Greenwald] to end his career at Rutgers," Goodale said. "And Nick Visicaro is the absolute future of our program. Anytime he gets the chance to wrestle, we like watching him compete. He just wrestles hard."
The dominance from two backups solidified a notion that the Knights harp on constantly — the practice room is just as demanding as the rest of the schedule.
And against the Dragons (7-16), that depth shone through.
"[Depth] is one thing that we have that a lot of people may not have realized yet," sophomore Joe Langel said. "A lot of it is because of how hard we work in the practice room. Just to be in the practice room you have to be almost at the level that our starters are at."
Langel got the ball rolling for Rutgers against Drexel with a 9-1 major decision over Michael Gomez. The Howell, N.J., native finishes the year 11-4 in dual meet action and is ready to step up as Rutgers' go-to-guy at 125 pounds in two weeks at the EIWA Tournament.
"I've been wrestling well and starting to peak when I need to," he said. "I've just got to keep wrestling hard and doing the things that I need to do. Don't really change anything, it's been working."
The triumph over the Dragons sets the Rutgers school record for victories in a season with 21 to go along with just two losses on the year. The previous record was also set during Goodale's tenure when the 2008-09 Knights put together a 20-win campaign.
While he recognizes the achievements the squad made this season, the fourth-year coach will still lose sleep over the most recent lost to Lehigh.
"I probably still have a bittersweet taste with Lehigh," Goodale said. "I'm sure if I get time down the line and I can look back, then I'm sure I'd be excited with how far we've come."
But the win over Drexel gets the Knights back on the winning track as they head into the most important part of the season in the EIWA and NCAA Tournaments.
"It was a good bounce back," Langel said. "Even though we had one bad match, it was good for everybody to go back out there and realize we are still wrestling to our capabilities."
And while a school record puts an exclamation point on a successful dual meet schedule, the postseason tournaments dwarf the regular season.
"[Our guys] aren't stupid. They know it's about this next tournament coming up," Goodale said. "We've had some good dual meet wins, but the reality is that nobody is going to care about that. They are going to care about what happens in the next month."